“SYTYCD” Season 9: The Top 20 Perform

Last night the Season 9 Top 20 took the stage in the first real competition of the season. And boy, did things get hot! Over at the judges' table, High School Musical director Kenny Ortega joined Nigel and Mary and—phew!—was I glad to have an articulate and knowledgeable judge with real dance experience weighing in on the performances.

Here are our Top 6 (sorry, I couldn't choose only 5!) Moments from last night's show:

6. Tiffany and George's contemporary routine. I professed my love for Sonya last week and I'm pretty sure that after this week's routine it's turned into an obsession. Sonya's choreo is always super athletic, but I loved the emotion Tiffany and George infused into the movement. This partnership is going to do big things, people. I see them sticking around for a long time.

 

5. Eliana and Cyrus's Broadway routine. The performance was 100 percent cheese ball and I totally ate it up. For never having done choreography, Cyrus was shockingly awesome and a seriously great partner. Props to Tyce was giving them choreo that made them both look great.

 

 

4. Amber and Nick's Viennese waltz. I must admit I was a bit skeptical of this pairing at first, but they actually had some pretty great chemistry. The choreography was flowing and technical and downright dreamy. Bravo, Jason Gilkison, on a great routine. And I just have to mention Amber's hair—it was rockin'. She looked gorgeous.

 

3. Amelia and Will's (character pop) hip-hop routine. This number was Nappytabs at their finest! Amelia and Will were completely committed to their characters and I couldn't get enough of them. They were slinky and funky and totally lovable. I can't wait to see more.

 

 

2. Lindsay and Cole's Paso Doble routine. What a power couple! And I absolutely loved Jason Gilkison's choreography. It was so strong, technical and dynamic. Are we sure Cole's not a ballroom dancer?

 

 

1. Audrey and Matthew's contemporary routine. Oh Travis Wall, just when I thought you'd leveled off, you give us this! I mean, Rose, Jack, the Titanic, "Unchained Melody"—it could have been a recipe for disaster, but it was brilliant! And very Mia Michaels-esque. Audrey has the feet and legs every dancer dreams of, and Matthew's performance was unmatched by any other guy.

 

And now, I just have to mention Tabitha's adorable baby bump! Oh my goodness, I can't even tell you how excited I am for baby Nappytabs. That child is going to be one funky little dude.

 

"So You Think You Can Whaaat?" moment of the night: Eliana's polka dot knee pads. Why? Why? Why? I'm still just so confused.

 

Now spill: Which routine was your favorite? Who did you vote for? Be sure to tune in next week to see which two boys and two girls are going home!

 

Dance News
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

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Photo by Erin Baiano

Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.

Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."

Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?

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Photo by Erin Baiano

Click here to vote for Emma.

There's a story Kate Walker, director of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, loves to tell about Emma Sutherland, who just graduated from the program. "We were watching the students run a really long, challenging piece," Walker recalls. "Several kids couldn't quite make it through. But Emma did make it all the way to the end, which is when she walked up to us faculty and very politely asked, 'May I please go throw up?' "

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